Modeling the situation of COVID-19 and effects of different containment strategies in China with dynamic differential equations and parameters estimation

Xiuli Liu, Geoffrey J D Hewings, Shouyang Wang, Minghui Qin, Xin Xiang, Shan Zheng, Xuefeng Li

Research output: Working paper


This paper proposed a quarantine-susceptible-exposed-infectious-resistant (QSEIR) model which considers the unprecedented strict quarantine measures in almost the whole of China to resist the epidemic. We estimated model parameters from published information with the statistical method and stochastic simulation, we found the parameters that achieved the best simulation test result. The next stage involved quantitative predictions of future epidemic developments based on different containment strategies with the QSEIR model, focused on the sensitivity of the outcomes to different parameter choices in mainland China. The main results are as follows. If the strict quarantine measures are being retained, the peak value of confirmed cases would be in the range of [52438, 64090] and the peak date would be expected in the range February 7 to February 19, 2020. During March18-30, 2020, the epidemic would be controlled. The end date would be in the period from August 20 to September 1, 2020. With 80% probability, our prediction on the peak date was 4 days ahead of the real date, the prediction error of the peak value is 0.43%, both estimates are much closer to the observed values compared with published studies. The sensitive analysis indicated that the quarantine measures (or with vaccination) are the most effective containment strategy to control the epidemic, followed by measures to increase the cured rate (like finding special medicine). The long-term simulation result and sensitive analysis in mainland China showed that the QSEIR model is stable and can be empirically validated. It is suggested that the QSEIR model can be applied to predict the development trend of the epidemic in other regions or countries in the world. In mainland China, the quarantine measures can't be relaxed before the end of March 2020. China can fully resume production with appropriate anti-epidemic measures beginning in early April 2020. The results of this study also implied that other countries now facing the epidemic outbreaks should act more decisively and take in time quarantine measures though it may have negative short-term public and economic consequences.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Number of pages31
StateIn preparation - Mar 13 2020

Publication series



  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
  • Novel coronavirus
  • 2019-nCoV
  • Virus
  • dynamically modeling
  • parameters estimation
  • sensitive analysis
  • effects of different containment strategies


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